“Midvale” was a very strange Supergirl episode, especially one to play during the sweeps period. Picking up right where we left off last week, Kara is bringing Alex back to their mother’s house. Spending a three day weekend there to help Alex get over her breakup with Maggie.
Now I knew from the promos that flashbacks to their childhood would be a focus, but color me surprised when after the intro into the episode the entire rest of this week was spent as a flashback. This means aside from Helen Slater as their mother we spent the whole episode with actors we’ve never met before. Also for the most part it’s a much smaller story, which I always like by the by. But that’s a big risk to take during the time most shows are pulling out the big action sequences and crazy twists.
The young actors playing teen Kara and Alex do quite well, Alex’s younger self looking particularly spot on and for those of you who are gamers, she would be a spot on Chloe in a “Life is Strange” adaptation. Young Kara threw me off for a bit, mostly because I had the last actress’s face so ingrained in my brain as young Kara, plus something about her performance just didn’t match what I thought Kara’s childhood was like.
Actually this leads me to a larger problem I had this week. What we’ve been told and shown of the girls’ history before and here doesn’t seem to match up. In one version Kara quickly came to care for her adopted parents and sister, while here there seems to still be a lot of animosity after living with them for a few years. I’m also vague on the time table of Jeremiah’s supposed “death.” It feels like the bonds and time frames of these backstories change as needed.
Getting past that and taking this on its own, “Midvale” is a pretty decent though predictable episode. Early on after Kara’s crush is found dead, she interacts with the Sheriff who is quickly established as being a friendly, caring authority figure who is just looking out for her best interest. Oh yeah, he definitely did it. They try and establish a bond with the audience that quick? Must be setting up for a twist! So yeah, pretty easy to see where things were heading.
The fun part was the teen angst and drama and Scooby-Doo element to the investigation with Kara and Alex. They threw us a couple red herrings, a school bully, a creepy teacher student relationship, the latter nicely setting up Alex losing her cool crew and pushing her closer to Kara going forward. This really could have been (and who knows, might be) a pilot for a show about the girls’ lives growing up.
There were some cute little easter eggs sprinkled throughout for die hard fans. Kara fan girls out about Superman’s recent battle with “some bald guy” named Lex Luthor who was making exosuits, then her classmates get a dig in about Supes wearing his underwear on the outside. The great big ole reference is going to drive the internet nuts. Kara references Clark’s old friend from Smallville, Chloe …. Chloe! Though as much as I’d like a Chloe cameo in the future the recent allegations against actress Allison Mack (feel free to Google) will probably keep that from happening. Kara even mentions the Wall of Weird. I’m sure all Smallville fans were frothing at the mouth and those requests for a Tom Welling cameo are about to get even louder.
One part of the episode had me feeling happy, angry, confused, just lots of things. This scene is when Kara is met by an FBI agent, there to convince her to not use her powers and hide as a human. The agent was played by Erica Durance, Smallville alum and of course the new face of Kara’s mother as well. Aside from the scene being used very misleadingly in promos, I found this choice almost cruel. We eventually find out it was actually J’onn trying to keep a watchful eye even back then, but think about what he really did. He used the visage of her dead mother to manipulate this poor girl. I’m sure seeing a woman who just happens to look like her mom might have had some positive benefits, but come on! I get what they were going for, I just think it failed. I found it to be just in poor taste.
The teen drama and mystery elements had enough there for this to be a fun outing. It was such a change from what we are used to, in a welcome and refreshing way. I wouldn’t say this was the best of the season at all but I like that they are willing to go for it, mix things up. I keep waiting for the downward turn this series has had in past seasons, but so far they’re going very strong. I’d love to see other, different stand-alone episode one-offs like this down the road. Give J’onn a solo outing, maybe spend one whole night with Winn and Jimmy, just pick a character or two and spin them off into some totally different genre for one hour. “Midvale” may not have floored me, but it was still very entertaining and it really opened the door for a ton of future possibilities.
Supergirl airs Monday at 8:00 PM on The CW.
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